At one point Friday night, Tremper graduate Justin Lavey looked like he’d be one of the heroes for the Louisville baseball team in its College World Series elimination game against Vanderbilt.
But the Commodores are a great team for a reason, and they rallied to eliminate Louisville with a 3-2 win in Omaha, Neb.
With the Cardinals trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Lavey — a junior second baseman — reached first base on a fielder’s choice in which a runner was thrown out at home for the second out of the inning.
But Louisville didn’t go away.
A single moved Lavey to second base, then he stole third and scored the tying run when the throw went into left field.
Another single gave Louisville, which needed a win to stay alive in the double-elimination tournament, a 2-1 lead.
Vanderbilt went down in order in the top of the eighth, and Louisville did likewise in the bottom of the eighth.
In the ninth, though, the Commodores came through with two runs to take the lead and set things up for closer Tyler Brown.
A one-out double brought Lavey to the plate with a chance to be a hero again, but Brown struck him out on a nasty breaking ball, and Vanderbilt held on for the win.
Louisville finished a season in which it reached college baseball’s Final Four with a 51-18 record. Lavey finished Friday’s game 0-for-2 with two walks and a run. For the season, he featured a slash line of .286/.361/.366.
Vanderbilt (57-11) advances to face Michigan (48-20) in the best-of-3 championship round beginning Monday. Michigan eliminated Texas Tech (46-20) with a 15-3 victory earlier Friday.
Both Vanderbilt and Michigan advanced to the title round without a loss.
On Thursday night, Lavey’s Cardinals did to Central graduate Marshall Gilbert and Mississippi State what the Bulldogs did to Auburn on Sunday night.
Walked them off.
With both teams needing a win to avoid elimination, the Bulldogs led 3-2 going into the bottom of the ninth.
But Louisville scored two runs and won the game, 4-3, on Drew Campbell’s walk-off single with no outs in the ninth.
Lavey finished the game 0-for-3 but drove in a run on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the seventh to pull Louisville within 3-2.
Gilbert, a senior third baseman who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this month, went 0-for-2 with a pair of walks and finished the season with a slash line of .313/.432/.493.
It was a memorable week for Gilbert in his final collegiate action. On Sunday, his walk-off single capped of the Bulldogs’ furious ninth-inning rally in a 5-4 defeat of Auburn. On Wednesday, he homered in Mississippi State’s 6-3 loss to Vanderbilt.
The Bulldogs finished with a record of 52-15.